A feeling came over me watching the Premier League action this weekend not of pride and passion but of well being let down.
I love refereeing, with a passion. I love being a part of England's national pasttime. Being out on the field of play during a game amongst the free flowing football is wonderful. It gives me a reason to stay fit, and for me to back my decision making. Things are going well so far, yet often I feel that things that happen at the highest echelon of the games means that decisions trickle down to the level I officiate at.
When Chris Foy sends off Jose Boswinga for a denial of a clear goal scoring opportunity when still 25 yards away from goal and a goalkeeper to beat your eyebrows will be raised. Not because of the decision, I saw the sense in it, just what will happen the following week with a different official.
And so at Stamford Bridge, Ashley Cole is upended by Arsenal goalkeeper Sczezeny when bearing down on goal. Replays show covering defenders coming back, but if Cole had remained on his feet, he might well have got a quick shot away. Result from Andre Marriner was a yellow card and a free-kick, from which nothing resulted. Sczezeny admitted on Twitter that evening he was surprised to remain on the pitch, at that time I believe the score was 3-2 to Arsenal, who eventually won 5-3 with a full quota of playing personal.
The inconsistency remains; but ultimately it is down to how to manage the players and control the high tempo, high intensity game of football. Foy felt that the indiscipline of Chelsea was probably getting out of hand; yet Didier Drogba's two footed lunge at Adel Taarabt left him no option but to dismiss. Marriner had the option and refused it, feeling that there was a covering defender, yet how can there be if the last defender on this occasion is the goalkeeper - theoretically the last man possible.
Following, Vincent Kompany's sending off at Manchester City on Saturday, word has come out that from next season such a challenge when he fouled/pulled Kevin Doyle to the floor will not be a red card offence - instead a yellow card and penalty will be sufficient punishment. Yet a challenge like that by Sczezeny will still be a red card due to the recklessness of it - red card and a suspension. The feeling being that Kompany and his team is being punished three times - dismissal, penalty and suspension.
Again, this means it is down to the interpretation of the individual official, I think the wording of denial of a clear goal scoring opportunity is clear and most often (unless your Phil Dowd at Anfield this year) the referees call it correctly.
This will only lead to more inconsistency of decisions, but that is the point of this piece, it only goes to highlight the decisions will never be 100% spot on because nobody is perfect, and it will depend on the individual, the players, the game, the pressure and intensity of each and every match.